Having been given the Glasgow World Cup assignment, second of the GB seniors out into international competition was Claudia Fragapane. Interestingly a very similar story to Amy Tinkler last week in America, the short story being some amazing upgrades, one fall, and huge potential for the year ahead.
Already we can see that the fight for Rio spots is going to be immense, and that these amazing gymnasts are naturally going all out this year to do their upmost for one of those five positions.
As with last week, another bravo to Milano for the beautiful leotard. Before the competition Claudia posted a pic just of the flag on the back and I though hmmmmm it’s black and silvery grey, not sure what that will be like. Well it was stunning, classy, sparkly and beautiful, by far the best of the day.
So on to the competition. If you remember back to last year at the American Cup, Claudia brought out all her big upgrades, and had some big struggles with them first time out. She then went on to take silver on floor at Europeans, contribute on floor, vault and beam in the bronze medal winning World Championship team final, and make the floor final.
Hopefully no one was expecting Claudia to be at her peak today, today was about testing the upgrades, and looking to what she is capable of as the year progresses, most importantly it was a preview of what she will be capable of in the summer.
Starting on vault Claudia competed her double twisting Yurchenko. It wasn’t her best vault as was reflected in the score, and she has been awarded 0.4 higher as recently as worlds. It was a little short, she did need to pike down giving her a low landing, and there is room for extension through her legs, but it was a solid enough start, and I am sure we will see her build the execution score again as she competes through the year. Nevertheless still the second highest score of the opening piece
14.466 (5.80 D 8.666 E)
On to bars, and the first of Claudia’s upgrades. The last time we saw Claudia on bars was back in October at the GB V Holland International just before worlds. She has changed the beginning of the routine since then, instead of opening with jump to high bar then into the toe half to piked Jaeger, she now starts on the low bar with a toe on to the new toe shap (Maloney) to high bar, then top turn into the toe half to piked Jaeger. The Maloney was great, the problem came with the toe half being a little late, so perhaps not giving her the swing she needed into the Jaeger, and she unfortunately couldn’t get a strong catch causing her to fall.
The toe on to piked Tkatchev (Church) immediately into Pak you may not remember, as Claudia did use it at the beginning of the year, but left it out at Europeans, then only competed it again at the GB v Holland international having not done bars at worlds. It’s a big combination, bringing a nice 0.2 in connection value. Claudia did have quite a tuck on the Tkatchev today, so will have suffered E score wise here, but she managed to link to the Pak to make the connection. Top turn, and shoot back to the high bar, then finishing with another upgrade, with the toe full linking directly into the double straight dismount when previously she would use a couple of longswings. Linking the two directly gives her another 0.1 in connection value.
The 0.3 D score upgrade is impressive as this is the piece Claudia struggles with the most. There is plenty of room for her to improve her E score here fall aside, and she will be hoping to break into the 14’s on this piece by completing the turns earlier, and cleaning up the form on the toe on Tkatchev.
12.50 (5.90 D 6.60 E)
Moving onto beam, and after her struggles on bars Claudia then moved in the lineup. Competitors went in reverse order of standings, so having gone second to last on bars after finishing second on vault, she now had a quick turn around to going second on beam.
Perhaps that would be a little off putting………….Or then again, perhaps Claudia would hit two incredibly hard upgrades raising her D score by 0.6.
I don’t know what they’re putting in the water at Lilleshall, but two GB ladies into international competition so far, and over a whole mark of upgrades on one piece between them. In all seriousness though, what a huge amount of work by these gymnasts and their personal coaches to produce such high levels of difficulty. Work until you weaknesses become your strengths, GB ladies are coming for you beam.
Claudia’s D score upgade come from two new skills, the opening back tuck has been changed to a standing Arabian, so a acro C (value 0.3) which she was counting, now becomes an F (value 0.6) for an extra 0.3. Following the change leap to sheep jump comes the next big skill, the flick to straight back is now a flick to straight full twist. This is a huge G (0.7 value) level skill meaning the arco section of Claudia’s routine is now G,F,F,E,D for 2.8 as opposed to F,E,E,D,C for 2.3. There’s also 0.2 in connection value for the twist as opposed to 0.1 for the layout, and that’s where the 0.6 comes from. Claudia was actually only awarded 6.5 today, still a big D score, but had the skills for a 6.6.
The rest of the skills remain the same, the standing full is still there, the W jump to split jump for the requirement should she not be awarded the first dance series, the free cartwheel, and the impressive flick flick to double pike dismount.
So Claudia has an Arabian, a straight full twist, and a tucked full twist, it doesn’t actually get much harder than that in terms of acro skills. This is a big risk routine, and enormous credit to Claudia for hitting it in her first competition of the year. This is a monster routine in terms of D score, 0.2 higher than the most difficult routine at World’s 2015.
Amazingly Claudia talked of upping her difficulty more on this piece for the British championships, she may be looking at her dance elements, as she is presently counting an A skill there, so could gain a little more with something new.
With I imagine nearly all the difficulty in, Claudia now has the time to work on the details, making sure that straight twist is always going to be stretched enough to be credited, ironing out the little wobbles as her confidence grows on the big new skills, hitting her full split position on the leaps. There are always improvements to be made for any gymnast on any piece, and she has time to make them. I imagine much like last year will see her E scores improve, as the year progresses.
A big well done to Claudia who rightly looked delighted with her performance, and topped the beam standings on the day.
14.066 (6.50 D 7.566 E)
Finishing on floor, and Claudia was in fourth place thanks to her score on beam. She went up third of the seven gymnasts, and other than adding a double spin, and a stag jump from the Arabian, she went with the same tumbles from 2015, competing her big routine with confidence.
Opening with the full twisting double straight with plenty of time in the air to land well, great start. Big double Arabian and an attempt to link to the stag jump, although not quite getting it today. Claudia has slightly rearranged the routine, the two tumbles coming before the dance passage now, the leaps stay the same with change ring leap to tour jette full, both well performed, although a little more range needed on the ring position. Butterfly into the corner, then Triple twist, split full then double spin, and finishing with the double straight, which actually came in a tiny bit short, but Claudia did really well to stand it up for a strong finish.
Claudia mentioned in her post competition interview that she has upgrades planned for the this routine, and hopes to add them for the British (she was specifically asked about the British as opposed to the English Championships which are next week), I have a few ideas as to what we could see, but will have to wait to see whether I am right as there are many possibilities! Highest floor score of the day for Claudia, and well deserved.
14.466 (6.20 D 8.166 E)
A great comeback for Claudia after the trouble on bars, and a very positive start overall to her 2016 season. Third place AA with 55.398, and counting a fall. Claudia’s top AA score in 2015 was 55.550, she’ll be sailing past that this year, and has the potential for some big AA scores, It will be exciting to see how she progresses from here.
Congratulations Claudia, Glasgow World Cup AA bronze medalist, and beam and floor top scorer. Congratulations go to Mykayla Skinner of the US, and Elizabeth Seitz of Germany for taking gold and silver.